There are minor Old Master sales, the first of the year, at Christie's, Friday (11am), Phillips, Tuesday (11am), Christie's South Kensington, Thursday (10.30am) and Bonhams, Thursday (11am). Whether you regard Old Master prices as rock-bottom or a bed-rock depends on how optimistic you are. Unlike Impressionists or Victorians, Old Master prices fell further than expected during the recession and have recovered only feebly because of the defection of money-troubled Italian buyers.
Last month's apparently buoyant sale total at Christie's, New York - 90 per cent by value - was the result of trimming estimates. Sotheby's comparable sale made a modest 74 per cent by value while its more sumptuous Sharp collection sold 94 per cent. New York showed that prices of Northern Old Masters - Dutch, German - are livelier than Italian. There is certainly plenty of Northern art in this week's sales.
A Terry Frost gouache or a Josef Herman lithograph for a couple of hundred pounds or less? Bonhams' Chelsea modern and contemporary British and continental pictures, Wednesday (2pm) are worth scanning for muddy diamonds.
BEST OF THE REST
Backyard Brabazon ( pounds 800- pounds 1,200) is among 100 lots of meticulously carved miniature aircraft by the late William Doylend at Christie's South Kensington, Friday (10.30am). Plenty around pounds 100.
Also at South Ken: transport memorabilia, Thursday (2pm). Vintage fountain pens: Bonhams Knightsbridge, Friday (11am). Mountaineering, polar exploration books: Bloomsbury Book Auctions, Thursday (11am).Reuse content